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The name Almeria derives from the Arabic occupation, originally Al-Mariyya, meaning The Mirror, as it was compared to The Mirror of the Sea. Almeria was an Arabic stronghold and the principal harbour in its domain.

The Moorish castle Alcazaba is the second largest of the Arabic fortresses in Andalusia, after the Alhambra in Granada.The striking fortress stands on a hill overlooking the city. Dating back to the 10th century, this lavish monument was built by Caliph of Cordoba Abd-ar Rahman III and comprises of three great walled enclosures the second of which contains the remains of the sites original mosque, converted to a chapel by the Catholic kings. Unfortunately the area has been ravaged by earthquakes, which have rendered much of the interior somewhat lacklustre. The exterior, however, remains truly impressive.

At the heart of the old quarter stands the strange fortified cathedral with its Renaissance façade and six Gothic towers that once held cannons. The cavernous interior is home to a wealth of priceless artwork including an eighteenth century tabernacle designed by Ventura Rodriguez, paintings by Alonso Canon, an ancient Andalucian altar piece made by Araoz and the statue of St. Indaletius, Almeria’s patron saint, sculpted by Saizillo.

Around the city there are numerous places of interest; Almeria has a good selection of galleries, museums and shops, as well as lots of pretty squares along the main central avenue Las Ramblas. The Almeria Museum and Contemporary Art Museum are both worth visiting and you will also find some interesting examples of street art throughout the city.

Almeria is an excellent city for dining out, head to the Puerta de Purchena, at the end of Paseo de Almeria or the old town for a great choice of bars and restaurants. Typical local specialities include Gachas (hot and spicy clam stew), Gurullos (stew with pasta) and Escabeche e Sardines (fresh sardines in hot sauce).

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